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Yoga : On spiritual plane, the union of soul with super soul, and on physical plane, the transforming (or unison of) the mind & body!

Yoga is the word with many interpretations and connotations. It literally means the 'union' in the context of union or unison of mind and body on physical plane, and union of the soul with super soul on spiritual plane. Yoga involves a physical, mental, and spiritual practices or discipline with the aim of transforming body and mind, and ultimately the reuninon with supreme soul. In fact, Yoga is a complete system devised by ancient Vedic-sages for a blissful life here, and hereafter with union of supreme soul.

Yoga

In modern age, Yoga was introduced and popularised in different parts of the world by Indian Yoga Gurus (Yogis). Across the western world, It is popular as a system of physical exercise which is called Hatha-Yoga, however Yoga is still more subtle and transcendental, and a system for self-realisation devised by Vedic-sages in ancient India.

Bharatvarsham (India) has been the land of Yogis since time immemorial, It has been the Vishwa-guru for whole world, It has been radiating the whole world with Spirituality, Yoga, wisdom and ancient vedic-sciences of sages. It's spiritual identity reflects in its tradition and Vedic-culture. Now, western scientists too approving the greatness of Yogas of ancient sages, and doing studies to determine the effectiveness of yoga as a complementary intervention and cure for various diseases such as cancer, schizophrenia, asthma, and heart disease, etc and for a healthy body and mind.

Some studies and researches by scientists over Yoga

Scientific evidence suggest that meditation alters cancer survivors’ cells : Link for News

It is what Yogis have been telling for all these years. The Western Medical Science changed in early 1990s, after Harvard Medical Team studied and conducted their researches on Himalayan Yogis, who were barely covered and most part of their body exposed to elements in ice-cold weather of Himalayas, with snow and wind around, but they were steaming their bodies with meditations. Before that the Body Mind Axis did not exist, which is why you see Psychiatry being treated as a separate branch.

Researchers in Canada have found the first evidence to suggest that support groups that encourage meditation and yoga can actually alter the cellular activity of cancer survivors. Their study was published in the Cancer journal , is one of the first to suggest that a mind-body connection really does exist.

Chanting and Meditation can heal damaged heart and lower down the high blood pressure : Link for News

There are several benefits of Yoga one can count, Chanting (repetition of Mantra) is also a Yoga, it is called Japa-Yajna. Now people all over world have started recognising the physical as well as spiritual benefits of Yoga and Chanting. Chanting and Meditation can heal the damaged heart, if the proper Yoga, proper Mantra and meditation techniques are learnt from a Yogi or Yoga master. It is said Rama Naam chanting is the best Yoga and the supreme Japa-Yajna, it is the remedy of all physical ailments.

The news paper reports: " A lady used meditation and chanting to combat high blood pressure suggested by her doctor. Amazingly, she is not only now medication-free, but her damaged heart had repaired itself. There is growing scientific study to show that meditation may be a powerful tool against a range of health problems. It's thought the calm state reached through yoga makes the brain subconsciously alter the sympathetic nervous system - the part of the body that responds to stress. As a result heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure are all lowered. One of the biggest studies of its kind, presented to the American Heart Association last year, found patients with coronary heart disease who practised meditation and chanting had nearly 50 per cent lower rates of heart attack, stroke and death compared to non-meditating subjects."

However, there is growing scientific study to show that meditation may be a powerful tool against a range of health problems. It's thought the calm state reached through yoga makes the brain subconsciously alter the sympathetic nervous system - the part of the body that responds to stress. As a result heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure are all lowered.

Super Brain Yoga

In Gurukulas (Indian or Vedic schools), what Indian children learnt this during their punishment is recognised as a great Yoga for improving brain, and now termed as superbrain yoga by scientists and Western world!

This easy 3-5 minute Yogic technique or exercise is called Super Brain Yoga and it has been shown through research to improve the academic and behavioral performance of students, this was the reason in tradition Indian schools, Teachers or Gurus were giving such kind of punishments which involved Yogic techniques of Hath Yoga, which is now called Super Brain Yoga. Even while bowing down to deities in temples, Hindu people touch their earlobes in similar fashion.

Dr. Eugenius Ang, JR at the Yale University School of Medicine practices this technique himself, and states, "Super Brain Yoga stimulates neuropathways in the brain by activating acupuncture points on the ear lobes. After doing the squatting sequences, the EEG scan shows the right and left hemisphere of the brain are synchronized.”

Ashtanga-Yoga

The eight aspects — or 'limbs' — of spiritual yogic practice are described in various scriptures, which is called Ashtanga Yoga, a complete set of practices for union with the supreme, those eight limbs of Yogas are:

1) Yama — restraints
2) Niyama — self-purification and study
3) Asana — Yogic postures
4) Pranayama — breath control
5) Pratyahara — withdrawing of the mind from the senses
6) Dharana — concentration, and conception of inner perceptual awareness
7) Dhyana — deep meditation on divine (devotion)
8) Samadhi — Union of soul with the object of meditation, supreme soul.

These eight limbs are decribed here in detail click here to read more.

Yog-Sutras given by Patanjali is called Patanjali Yog Sutras. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras are structured around four chapters (called Pada) having total 195 sutras, those four Padas are:

Samadhi Pada,
Sadhana Pada,
Vibhuti Pada, and
Kaivalya Pada.

Some specific sutras from Patanjali Yog-sutras Samadhi Pada are quoted below to understand the Yoga, and the nature of Ishvara.

How Patanjali Yog Sutras define Yoga:

अथ योगानुशासनम् ॥१॥
atha yoga-anuśāsanam ॥1॥

Yoga in the here and now: an introduction to the study and practice of yoga ॥1॥

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः ॥२॥
yogaś-citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ ॥2॥

When you are in a state of yoga, all misconceptions (vrittis) that can exist in the mutable aspect of human beings (chitta) disappear. ॥2॥

तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानम् ॥३॥
tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe-'vasthānam ॥3॥

For finding our true self (drashtu) entails insight into our own nature. ॥3॥

वृत्ति सारूप्यमितरत्र ॥४॥
vṛtti sārūpyam-itaratra ॥4॥

Lacking that, misconceptions (vritti) skew our perceptions. ॥4॥

Thus, Patanjali defines Yoga as the ability to direct the mind exclusively towards an object or the goal, and sustain that direction without any distraction.

That object can be anything either external to our-selves or part of our-selves. It can be an area of interest, a concept or something beyond the level of senses such as supreme soul (God).

अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः ॥१२॥
abhyāsa-vairāgya-ābhyāṁ tan-nirodhaḥ ॥12॥

The state of yoga is attained via a balance between assiduousness (abhyasa) and imperturbability (vairagya). ॥12|

तत्र स्थितौ यत्नोऽभ्यासः ॥१३॥
tatra sthitau yatno-'bhyāsaḥ ॥13॥

Assiduousness means resolutely adhering to one’s practice of yoga. ॥13॥

स तु दीर्घकाल नैरन्तर्य सत्कारादरासेवितो दृढभूमिः ॥१४॥
sa tu dīrghakāla nairantarya satkāra-ādara-āsevito dṛḍhabhūmiḥ ॥14॥

Success can definitely be achieved via sound, correct and continuous practice over an extended period of time, carried out in a serious and thoughtful manner. ॥14॥

When does Yoga Succeed? Patanjali says only when the sound and correct practice is followed.

तत्परं पुरुषख्यातेः गुणवैतृष्ण्यम् ॥१६॥
tatparaṁ puruṣa-khyāteḥ guṇa-vaitṛṣṇyam ॥16॥

The highest state of imperturbability arises from the experience of the true self; in this state even the basic elements of nature lose their power over us. ॥ 16॥

वितर्कविचारानन्दास्मितारुपानुगमात्संप्रज्ञातः ॥१७॥
vitarka-vicāra-ānanda-asmitā-rupa-anu

gamāt-saṁprajñātaḥ ॥17॥

This absolute knowledge is engendered incrementally by divination, experience, joy, and ultimately the feeling of the real self. ॥17॥

भवप्रत्ययो विदेहप्रकृतिलयानम् ॥१९॥
bhava-pratyayo videha-prakṛti-layānam ॥19॥

Some people are born with true insight, whereas others attain it via a divine body or oneness with nature. ॥19॥

तीव्रसंवेगानामासन्नः ॥२१॥
tīvra-saṁvegānām-āsannaḥ ॥21॥

The goal is achieved through intensive practice. ॥21॥

मृदुमध्याधिमात्रत्वात्ततोऽपि विशेषः ॥२२॥
mṛdu-madhya-adhimātratvāt-tato'pi viśeṣaḥ ॥22॥

This practice can be light, moderate or intensive. ॥22॥

ईश्वरप्रणिधानाद्वा ॥२३॥
īśvara-praṇidhānād-vā ॥23॥

The goal can also be attained via submission to the concept of an ideal being (ishvara). ॥24॥

क्लेश कर्म विपाकाशयैःपरामृष्टः पुरुषविशेष ईश्वरः ॥२४॥
kleśa karma vipāka-āśayaiḥ-aparāmṛṣṭaḥ puruṣa-viśeṣa īśvaraḥ ॥24॥

Ishavara is a special being that is unaffected by the obstacles of the spiritual aspirant (klesha), specific actions and consequences (karma), or recollections or desires. ॥24॥

तत्र निरतिशयं सर्वज्ञबीजम् ॥२५॥
tatra niratiśayaṁ sarvajña-bījam ॥25॥

Ishavara is unmatched and is the source of all knowledge. ॥25॥

स एष पूर्वेषामपिगुरुः कालेनानवच्छेदात् ॥२६॥
sa eṣa pūrveṣām-api-guruḥ kālena-anavacchedāt ॥26॥

Unconditioned by time, Ishavara is the teacher of even the most ancient teachers i.e. the guru of the first ones; he is unaffected by time ॥26॥

तस्य वाचकः प्रणवः ॥२७॥
tasya vācakaḥ praṇavaḥ ॥27॥

The word expressive of Isvara is the mystic sound OM. ॥27॥

तज्जपः तदर्थभावनम् ॥२८॥
taj-japaḥ tad-artha-bhāvanam ॥28॥

Repetition of OM or Rama (The word expressive of Isvara) leads to contemplation. ॥28॥

ततः प्रत्यक्चेतनाधिगमोऽप्यन्तरायाभवश्च ॥२९॥
tataḥ pratyak-cetana-adhigamo-'py-antarāya-abhavaś-ca ॥29॥

Through this practice, the immutable self is revealed and all obstacles (antaraya) are removed. ॥29॥

व्याधि स्त्यान संशय प्रमादालस्याविरति भ्रान्तिदर्शनालब्धभूमिकत्वानवस्थितत्वानि चित्तविक्षेपाः ते अन्तरायाः ॥३०॥
vyādhi styāna saṁśaya pramāda-ālasya-avirati bhrāntidarśana-alabdha-bhūmikatva-anavasthitatvāni citta-vikṣepāḥ te antarāyāḥ ॥30॥

These obstacles (antaraya) (illness; inertia; doubt; neglect; sloth; desire; blindness; a lack of goals; irresoluteness) obscure that which is immutable in human beings (chitta). ॥30॥

दुःखदौर्मनस्याङ्गमेजयत्वश्वासप्रश्वासाः विक्षेप सहभुवः ॥३१॥
duḥkha-daurmanasya-aṅgamejayatva-śvāsapraśvāsāḥ vikṣepa sahabhuvaḥ ॥31॥

Suffering, depression, nervousness, and agitated breathing are signs of this lack of clarity. ॥31॥

तत्प्रतिषेधार्थमेकतत्त्वाभ्यासः ॥३२॥
tat-pratiṣedha-artham-eka-tattva-abhyāsaḥ ॥32॥

He who practices assiduously overcomes these obstacles. ॥32॥

।।SitaRam।।

 

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